Summertime is probably my favorite time to fish for walleyes. That’s when I do the most guiding, because the walleyes become very predictable. Like other fish, walleyes have their favorite places they prefer to hold in hot weather. They tend to follow the same paths over and over again to reach those most preferred spots each year. So, I’ve discovered that whether I’m fishing the Great Lakes or the lakes in North Dakota where I live that in the springtime walleyes generally are in shallow water in shallow flat areas, looking for warmer water and baitfish.
But as the water warms up, the walleyes usually move to the first drop-off, just off a flat, and will concentrate on the edge, the middle or the bottom of that drop-off. The depths of the drop-offs I like to fish change from lake to lake. However, if I have to pick a depth of water I prefer to fish in the summer, the shallow side of the drop probably will be about 10-foot deep, and the bottom of the drop will be about 20-25 feet deep. In some lakes, the drop-off may be from 6-18 feet deep. On other lakes, the drop-off may be from 18-33 feet deep.
I prefer to fish the sharp drop-offs that are easy to find, and I can fish for a good ways either on the edge or deeper off the drop. The walleyes will remain there throughout the summer, making the walleyes fairly easy to find and not hard to catch in the summer.
I like to fish a variety of techniques for walleyes during hot weather. However, the one I like the most is slow trolling with a bottom bouncer and a spinner combination like a hammered gold or a hammered silver spinner rigged Indiana style in sizes No. 3 – No. 5. The size depends on the type of water I’m fishing, on what forage the walleyes are feeding, and how big the forage is. I like to match my lures to the size of baitfish the walleyes are eating.
I’ll tip that spinner either with a live leech or a night crawler. I prefer to fish artificial lures that resemble a leech or a worm. I’m a big fan of Berkley GULP! trailers. Berkley makes a couple of different shapes I use, including a GULP! Curly Tailed Grub, a minnow grub that’s about 2-1/2-inches and the GULP! Minnow that’s a 3-inch bait. I have great luck with those sizes during the hot summer months.
I like the white-bodied GULPs when I’m fishing a silver spinner, because then that resembles a shiner or a smelt or any kind of shiny baitfish. With the gold spinner, I’ll put a Fire Tiger color or a color that imitates a perch that has some green and orange in it. Then it helps imitate a bait that the silver-and-white combination doesn’t imitate.
Most of the time during hot weather, I’m not expecting to catch trophy walleyes. If you look at walleye tournament results, you’ll see that the winning weights caught in the summer aren’t as heavy as the winning weights of walleye caught in the fall or spring. The average walleye we catch in the summer will be 14-20 inches in length. However, you never know when a giant walleye will sneak up on you and catch you off-guard.